The following is going to be a technical and geeky post, written mainly to remind me of how to solve these problems should I ever re-install Windows and for others who get stuck on the same issues.
I’m running Windows 7 Ultimate with a Diamond Wonder 750 USB TV Tuner Card. I have an ATI HD5570 HDMI video card which outputs to my AV amp, which in turns goes to my surround sound system and my TV. Because I’m cheap and live in Vancouver, I hooked my tuner card up to an antenna to take advantage of the 7 high-definition over-the-air digital channels that are available.
I was previously using TotalMedia to watch and record TV, but the program was slow and was unable to pull the TV listings from the internet. Couple that with a couple other issues, and I wanted to reformat the computer, starting from a fresh Windows 7 install.
Windows Media Center does not like ATSC in Canada
Canada completed the switch to digital signals last year. This means all antenna broadcasts are in crystal clear digital high-definition.
The downside is that Microsoft has never tried to offer support for digital television in Canada (which comes through the same ATSC standard as in the USA). This is why I previously had to use TotalMedia to watch TV – Windows Media Centre refused to recognize my digital tuner because I said I lived in Canada.
Luckily, there’s a workaround, which is compiled into a simple batch file available on the Microsoft Experts forum. Just download the file there, run the ATSC support, and it should work.
As an added bonus, you can run the other batch file they wrote to enable guide support, which they have even automated for the major markets in Canada.
Windows Media Center does not like HDMI Audio
With that working, I managed to run into my next error.
Whenever I clicked on LiveTV, I would get a couple seconds of TV with no sound before an error message popped up saying:
Files needed to display video are not installed or are not working correctly. Restart Windows Media Center or restart the computer.
Additionally, when I ran the WMC Set Up Audio system and selected HDMI audio, it would not produce any sound. Videos and menus would make sounds until I tried to watch TV, and then WMC would quit making any noise.
After some Googling, some suggested running WMC as an Administrator, but this didn’t work for me.
What did work was opening my Playback devices under sound settings, opening the properties of my HDMI audio device, and unselecting “Allow applications to take exclusive control of this device” under Advanced.
Everything seems to be working now. Hopefully something in here helps you set up your own HTPC / free-PVR system.